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Second Finger Slide to a Unison

ifiddlemag lake arthur stomp unisons Feb 20, 2020

Hi, I’m Mitch Reed from mitchreedmusiclessons.com, and I am sharing some Cajun techniques with y’all on iFiddlemagazine.com and I’m glad to be here.

When Mike asked me about some interesting Cajun technique, I thought of one thing that really stands out with Cajun music.  A difference from some of the other styles of fiddle music in the South is Cajun music has a heavy, heavy blues influence, an African American influence, or Creole as we call it down here. I learned from a man who was Creole, and one of the things that he showed me I still use in my music today. A lot of people ask me what I’m doing. It’s a second finger slide to a unison. So normally when you play unison, you play a fourth finger on, let’s say the A string, and then play an open E. It’s used a lot in fiddle music. This guy that I learned from would slide his second finger all the way to a fourth finger unison. So he would get this technique. [01:14]

All right. And the story goes, he got stung by a catfish. He loved to fish and he went to the river and caught this monster catfish and fought with it, struggle with it, and it ended up stinging him right here in his first finger in the joint. It ended up actually getting off the hook, bouncing down the levee,  and got away. So he was so furious. He went home that night and he went to bed with his hand in a fist, he was so mad. And it actually froze that finger so he couldn’t really use it anymore. So his second finger became the finger that he would slide with. So just to give you a little example of his style this was a tune that he played. I think he called this “The Lake Arthur Stomp”. So it goes… [02:08]

No fourth finger unisons there. It was just sliding that second finger to a fourth. So really, I was really only using my second finger and I did use my first finger a little bit. So that’s definitely one style that we could look at and just kind of break down what I’m doing there. So the first thing is the bowing. It definitely has a heavy shuffle bowing. So that [02:57]. When I teach at home, the way I get people to remember this bowing is, ‘I’m happy, you’re happy’. So that’s what I’m doing there. The shuffle [03:11] and then I’m using the open E just as a drone. That’s another thing in Cajun fiddle that’s really a huge influence in the sound and style. That really dictates what the sound and the style are about. There’s always that droning string. You know, it’s almost like a bagpipe. So I’m really playing most of the melody on the A string and then droning that open E. I’m getting this kind of thing. [03:39] Even here when I go to the E string, I do a little slide. [03:45]

Okay. So that gives you a little taste of some of the Cajun and Creole technique that we use down here in Southwest Louisiana. And, you know, I was lucky to grow up in a period where some of the old guys were still around. My father was really good about taking me around when I was a kid to learn from these guys. You know, he helped me to realize this isn’t in books and this was way before the internet. And the only way you could get this information is to go and become friends with them, have coffee with them and listen to their stories. And, it was awesome. This was the greatest time in my life and now I want to share it with you.

I hope you enjoyed my video and I’m going to continue to do some short videos on iFiddle Magazine. Also, check out my website mitchreedmusiclessons.com where you can become a member for breakdowns of Cajun and Creole tunes for beginners and for intermediate players.

All right! Thanks for joining me today. Stay inspired, keep fiddling, and I hope to see you out there somewhere, maybe at a festival or something. Take care. Thanks.

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